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NGO throws lifeline to off-campus students

todayMay 17, 2024 36

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Mental wellness activist, Mpadi Makgalo, attributes the spike in suicide cases among young people, in most instances, to a feeling of not being connected to family, community or society at large.

The founder of Heal SA, an NGO that offers mental health services, and her team have been assisting learners and teachers at Eqinisweni Secondary School in Ivory Park, where four teenagers took their own lives within a space of 10 days.

The incident came amid concerns about the number of young South Africans who are taking their lives.

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), 9% of all teenage deaths in the country are suicides.

Makgalo, who has also struggled with mental health, believes the growing number of broken family units and the lack of mental health literacy contributes to the scourge.

To mitigate the situation, Heal SA partnered with Pretoria-based student accommodation management agency, Respublica, and launched free counselling services to off-campus university students across the country.

“Through this collaboration, students will have access to the Heal Helpline and Heal WhatsApp Line, connecting them to trained counsellors who can offer support and guidance,” she says.

According to Makgalo, the Heal WhatsApp Line, enables students to engage in text-based counselling, providing an alternative for those who may prefer not to speak directly.

“They will be able to text back and forth with a trained counsellor. The Heal Helpline allows students to call free of charge for crisis intervention and stabilisation.”

These services are available to students from 08:00 to 22:00, Monday to Friday. The WhatsApp line that students are urged to use is 071 322 5453.

“There’s still a stigma around getting mental health support. Some students have concerns around confidentiality, while others come from backgrounds where treating mental health isn’t the norm. So, the Heal Helpline and Heal WhatsApp line will provide support to the students, in the comfort of their homes away from home and guarantees confidentiality,” says the Heal SA CEO. Written by Lamile Miya

Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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